Triumph (band)

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Triumph's reunion performance in June 2008 at the Sweden Rock Festival.
Triumph's reunion performance in June 2008 at the Sweden Rock Festival.
Background information
OriginMississauga, Ontario, Canada
Years active
  • 1975–1993
  • 2008
  • 2019
Past members

Triumph was a Canadian hard rock band formed in 1975 that was popular in the late 1970s and the 1980s, building on its reputation and success as a live band. Between the band's 16 albums and DVDs, Triumph has received 18 gold and 9 platinum awards in Canada and the United States. Triumph was nominated for multiple Juno Awards, including Group of the Year Award in 1979, 1985, 1986, and 1987. The band was inducted into the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame in 2007,[1] into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2008,[2] and into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2019.[3]

Triumph is most known for its guitar-driven rock songs and alternative Canadian rock trio vibe with such songs as "Lay It on the Line", "Magic Power", "Fight the Good Fight", "World of Fantasy" and strong cover songs like "Rocky Mountain Way". The band was formed in Toronto, and for much of its existence featured Rik Emmett (guitar, vocals), Mike Levine (bass, keyboards), and Gil Moore (drums, vocals) from 1975 onward. This lineup, which recorded the band's first nine studio albums, lasted until 1988, when Emmett left Triumph to pursue a solo career. He was replaced by Phil "X" Xenedis, and Triumph recorded their last album to date, Edge of Excess, with him before going on indefinite hiatus in 1993. The classic lineup of Moore, Levine and Emmett reunited for two live concerts in 2008, at Sweden Rock Festival and Rocklahoma, and again in 2019 for a three-song performance in Toronto.


Early days and first two albums (1975–1978)[edit]

Triumph began as a four-piece blues-based, consisting of Fred Keeler (guitar), Peter Young (organ), Mike Levine (bass) and Gil Moore (drums, vocals). The group, at the time called Abernathy Shagnaster, signed to Canada's Attic Records in 1975 and issued the non-charting single "Hobo"/"Got To Get You Back In My Life".[4]

Keeler and Young left the group soon after the band's first single was released. In the summer of 1975 Moore and Levine met guitarist Rik Emmett, who was playing at Toronto's Hollywood Tavern in a band called ACT III. After jamming with the pair at Moore's house in Mississauga and reviewing Triumph's existing contracts, Emmett agreed to join the band. Triumph's first paid concert with Emmett was at Simcoe High School in September 1975.[5]

Guitarist Emmett's songwriting style brought both progressive rock and classical music influences; each Triumph album included a classical guitar solo piece. Moore doubled as lead singer on many of the band's heavier songs and in their later years, some softer ballads; bassist and pianist Levine produced their early albums. As with many progressive rock and heavy metal bands, Triumph's style proved unpopular with rock critics; Rolling Stone reviewers labeled them a "faceless band".[6]

Triumph's first album (originally self-titled but later renamed In the Beginning) was rare outside Canada, but their widely released second LP, Rock & Roll Machine, received some scattered airplay in the US, with Moore's cover of Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way". In mid-1978 Triumph subbed in for Sammy Hagar on an FM radio-station promotion date in San Antonio, Texas, followed by a run of five shows in Texas for JAM Productions (a promoter named Joe Anthony), then toured across Canada with fellow Canadian rockers Moxy and Trooper.

On August 26, 1978, they were headliners at the Canada Jam Festival at Mosport Park, playing before a crowd of about 110,000 people.[7]

Mainstream popularity (1979–1985)[edit]

Triumph's third album, Just a Game (1979), featured a moderate U.S. radio hit, "Hold On", which reached No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100.[8] "Hold On" became a significant song in some select markets, for example, in St. Louis the song made it to No. 1 on KSHE, an album-oriented/classic rock FM radio station. "Hold On" peaked at No. 33 on the RPM Singles chart in Canada. The second single "Lay It on the Line" received greater acceptance at album-oriented rock FM radio across the U.S. and Canada. "Lay It on the Line" received heavy FM radio airplay, and reached No. 86 on the Billboard Hot 100.[9] In 'oldies' classic-rock format radio stations in the US, it remains the most widely played and recognized song from the Triumph catalogue. The album eventually went gold in the US.

In 1980, the album Progressions of Power was released and peaked at No. 32 in the US, reaching Gold in overall sales. Its single "I Can Survive" peaked at No. 91 on the Hot 100.[9] That year the band performed their heavy metal show in Passiac, New Jersey; it was their first show in the New York area.[10]

1981's Allied Forces sold over a million copies in the US,[11] while attaining the highest chart positions any Triumph album would attain; No. 23 in the US and No. 13 in Canada. It included the songs "Fight the Good Fight" and "Magic Power", the latter of which reached no. 5 at Canada's largest Top 40 radio station, CHUM-AM in Toronto.[12] "Magic Power" peaked at No. 14 on the national Canadian RPM Singles chart, their biggest hit in their native Canada. "Magic Power" reached No. 8 on the Billboard Mainstream Top Rock Tracks chart and No. 51 on the Hot 100, while "Fight the Good Fight" went to No. 18 on the Top Rock Tracks chart.

Never Surrender was initially released in 1982 on Attic Records in Canada, and was not released in the United States until January 1983. The album attained gold status in the US,[13] and peaked at No. 26 on the US album chart. It saw the band's compositions take on more political overtones. Previously, Emmett had included a single political theme on each Triumph album. ("Just a Game", "Hard Road", and "Ordinary Man" portray Rik Emmett's strong populist leanings.) However, Never Surrender featured five anthems. The Jimi Hendrix-inspired riff-rocker "Too Much Thinking" even samples Ronald Reagan from one of his presidential speeches. "All the Way" (No. 2) and "A World of Fantasy" (No. 3) became Triumph's highest ever charting songs on the Top Rock Tracks chart, while the title track peaked at No. 23. The album earned gold record status in the United States (sales of 500,000 units).[14] However, Triumph's relationship with RCA Records soured at this point; MCA Records executive Irving Azoff co-opted their debts and signed them for five albums. Following their 1984 label change, MCA took over distribution of their old catalogue for ten years. After the shift to MCA, the band began to work with outside producers, and their studio albums became increasingly difficult to replicate onstage. Triumph later added Rick Santers, a Toronto guitar and keyboard player, to support their last three tours.

Thunder Seven was released in late 1984, initially as a compact disc. Despite two hit singles and videos, "Spellbound" (No. 10 on the Top Rock Tracks chart) and "Follow Your Heart" (No. 13), the album failed to achieve expected levels of sales; cassette and vinyl formats were soon released. On Thunder Seven Emmett's lyrics addressed social concerns in an adult context and Rik Emmett and Gil Moore sang alternating vocal parts in "Follow Your Heart" and "Killing Time". Continuing in the direction of "Never Surrender", the entire second side formed a loose concept focusing on different perspectives of time with "Time Canon" mostly featuring multiple part voice harmonies. Thunder Seven became an RIAA certified gold album in 2003.

In 1985, the band released Stages, a double live set culled from the previous three tours. It also included two new songs, including "Mind Games", for which a video was filmed, but the song failed to chart in either Canada or the U.S. On June 7, 1985 Triumph was ranked #2 in Performance Magazine's 6-week period ending "Tops in Performance" list. That year the band performed with Mountain at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Illinois.[15]

The Sport of Kings, Surveillance and split with Rik Emmett (1986–1991)[edit]

Triumph took a more commercial turn with their 1986 studio album, The Sport of Kings.[16] Rik Emmett's "Somebody's Out There" reached the American Top 40 in late 1986, a significant amount of radio and video exposure. Written and recorded in the 11th hour of The Sport of Kings sessions, in an attempt to deliver a hit 'single' to satisfy the demands of the record company, "Somebody's Out There" made it to No. 27 on Billboard Hot 100 during October and November 1986.[9] "Somebody's Out There" still stands as the highest-charting song from the Triumph catalogue on the Hot 100.[9] It also reached No. 9 on the Top Rock Tracks chart, although it did less well in Canada, only reaching No. 84 on the Singles chart there. Gil Moore's "Tears in the Rain", cut from the same cloth as "Mind Games", did not fare as well in the charts in the US, as it peaked at No. 23 on the Top Rock Tracks charts. The third single, the slow-tempo "Just One Night", which also had a video, did fairly well in Canada hitting No. 33 on the Singles chart in April 1987, but did not chart in the US. Adding Rick Santers to their line-up, Triumph toured with Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen across the United States.

In 1987, the band attempted a return to their usual style with Surveillance.[16] While Gil Moore and Mike Levine remained firmly planted in blues-rock, Rik Emmett took a more modern progressive turn, even involving Dixie Dregs and Kansas guitarist Steve Morse. They collaborated on a dual-guitar solo for Gil Moore's angst-ridden vocal on the Emmett-penned "Headed for Nowhere". The first single released to radio stations in Canada was "Let the Light Shine On Me", which did well on certain Canadian rock stations, such as reaching number 1 at Q107 in Toronto (as the lead one or two singles on most Triumph albums since 1979 had) while reaching No. 61 on the Canadian singles chart. It did not chart in the US. The first single released to radio stations in the US, "Long Time Gone", reached number 23 on the Top Rock Tracks chart; the song did not chart in Canada. A video was released for the single "Never Say Never", but the song was not able to chart on the Top Rock Tracks chart or on the Canadian Singles chart.

The 1988 tour, during which the band members experienced growing disharmony over business decisions and artistic direction, ended with a September 3 show on the Kingswood stage at Canada's Wonderland. Later that year Emmett left Triumph and began a solo career; the three didn't perform together again for many years.[17] Emmett's first album, Absolutely, yielded four hits in Canada. Meanwhile, Triumph released 1989's Classics as their obligatory fifth album owed to MCA Records.

Phil X-era, Edge of Excess and hiatus (1992–2006)[edit]

In 1992, the remaining members of Triumph recruited Phil Xenidis, a Canadian guitarist known for his work with Aldo Nova and Frozen Ghost. Moore was the principal songwriter and lead singer for 1992's Edge of Excess, with additional help from guitarist-producer Mladen. Rick Santers also remained on hand as touring keyboardist and singer for the 1993 North American tour, singing Rik Emmett's parts in fan favourites "Magic Power" and "Fight the Good Fight". Initial reception of the album from American radio seemed quite favourable, until Triumph's recording label, a subsidiary of Polygram, dissolved unexpectedly in 1993. After this downturn, the remaining members of Triumph effectively disbanded.[18]

In 1998, Rik Emmett resisted overtures from his former bandmates for a potentially lucrative twentieth anniversary US tour, stating he was not interested. Nevertheless, Moore and Levine purchased and acquired back their entire album catalogue from MCA and launched their own label TML Entertainment, and they continue to release live recordings and videos from their long career.

In 2003, TML released a live DVD album called Live at the US Festival originally recorded in San Bernardino, California at the US Festival in 1983. This historic festival, attracting nearly 250,000 rock fans, also featured Van Halen and The Clash. Triumph had earlier released this concert on VHS following the Never Surrender tour, featuring two videos from the forthcoming Thunder Seven album. In 2004, TML released a second DVD concert, A Night of Triumph, filmed in 1987 at Halifax Metro Centre during The Sport of Kings tour. The most comprehensive Triumph anthology, Livin' for the Weekend: Anthology, was issued in 2005. A CD of extended versions of some of the band's most popular hits called Extended Versions: Triumph was released in 2006.

In the 1980s Moore opened and operated Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, originally for Triumph's exclusive use; more recently the company has been training engineers and sound technicians for Canada's music industry.

Reunion with Rik Emmett (2007–present)[edit]

On March 10, 2007, Triumph was inducted to the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Toronto's Fairmont Royal York Hotel. All members of the "classic" group line-up (Emmett, Moore, Levine) were present for the event. Although there were no plans for a Triumph reunion, and Moore had taken on a full-time career at Metalworks, the band members didn't rule out future collaborations; Nick Blagona, for example, mastered Emmett's latest hard rock project, Airtime (2007), in the Metalworks mastering suite.

On April 6, 2008, Triumph was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame as part of the Juno Awards.[19]

In 2008, Triumph's classic lineup performed live for the first time since 1988 with two reunion concerts: the first on June 7 at the Sweden Rock Festival in Solvesborg, Sweden, and the second on July 11 at the Rocklahoma music festival in Pryor, Oklahoma.[20]

In 2011, the band reissued Allied Forces as a vinyl package for their 30th anniversary.[21]

On July 14, 2011, Triumph Lane in Mississauga, ON, was officially dedicated in honour of the band.[22]

On August 28, 2012, the band released a CD+DVD package of their June 7, 2008, reunion concert in Sweden titled Live at Sweden Rock Festival on Frontiers Records in Europe and on the TML label in Canada and the United States.[23]

In 2013, Triumph was inducted into Legends Row at the inaugural ceremony held at Mississauga City Hall.[24]

In 2016, Rik Emmett released the album RES9, which included the song "Grand Parade", on which Gil Moore played drums and Mike Levine played bass. The song is a ballad reminiscent of "Suitcase Blues" and even includes the line "Me, I'm hanging out with Johnny Walker once again."

In 2019, Triumph were named Legends Of Live at the 2019 Live Music Industry Awards at Canadian Music Week.

On November 16, 2019, Triumph performed together for the first time in eleven years at an invite-only event at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga, Ontario, where they played three songs — "When the Lights Go Down", "Lay It on the Line" and "Magic Power" — in front of approximately 300 "superfans" in attendance. This Superfan Fantasy performance was taped for the upcoming Banger Films documentary Triumph: Lay It on the Line, which is slated for release in 2020.[25] That same month, Triumph were inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. When asked if the band will perform again in the future, Emmett said, "I think we're gonna try and do it every 11 years or so. That's the length of time it had been since we did a reunion in Sweden."[25]


Since the group’s inception, individually and collectively, Triumph have contributed time, energy, music, facilities, equipment and funds in support of a wide range of charitable, educational and humanitarian causes.

Triumph’s largest single charitable contribution was its final appearance at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, January 22, 1987. Staged by Gary Slaight for the "Sounds United" campaign of the United Way of Canada, Greater Toronto Division, all proceeds of $179,356.66 were donated.[26] More recently, the trio has raised over $250,000 (and still counting) with its Signed Guitars Program. Since 2009 Triumph has signed over 100 Fender guitars and donated them to various charities for live and silent auctions, raising between $1,500 and $6,500 each.[27] Individually, Emmett has also contributed guitars for Kids With Cancer, CNIB Ride For Sight and Barrett House Aids Hospice.

In 2011 Triumph donated their music and business archives to the University of Toronto Libraries.[28]

Moore, Levine and Emmett have participated, together and separately, in many major fundraising events, including the latter’s appearance on “Tears Are Not Enough”,[29] the Canadian music industry single for Ethiopian Famine Release in 1985, which would eventually raise over $3.5 million. Moore, along with Tom Cochrane and Rush’s Alex Lifeson, and others, served on the committee which spearheaded the tsunami relief effort, Canada for Asia, in 2005.

Other causes Triumph and Metalworks have supported and/or sponsored include: MusiCounts,[30] Rock Star for a Day Program, the Children’s Wish Foundation, Canada's Walk of Fame Emerging Artist Program,[31] Canadian Music Week National Songwriting Contests, many High School Battle of the Bands,[32] Full Circle, Camp Rock, Bike for Betty, and Friends of We Care – Easter Seals.[33] The state-of-the-art facilities at Metalworks Studios have also been donated many times to help causes, including the Canadian Live 8 Concert, held in Barrie, Ontario on July 2, 2005.

In 1996, Triumph donated royalties from one million units of the song "Magic Power" on the certified Diamond "Oh What a Feeling: A Vital Collection of Canadian Music" compilation CD in support of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Science and Juno Award, as they have done many times in support of charitable initiatives. Moore has participated in and donated Triumph autographed guitars to celebrity golf fundraising tournaments, Levine has bowled for TJ Martell Foundation [34] and Emmett regularly performs at fundraisers for many causes, including AIDS, Food Bank and Shelter benefits.

In 2013 Emmett was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for Community Service [35] and Moore was given a star on the Mississauga Music Walk of Fame for contributions to education and community support. Metalworks Production Group was given the 2014 Sam McCallion Small Business Community Involvement Award by the Mississauga Board of Trade.[36] Metalworks Institute coordinates volunteers for Make Music Matter, a Calgary-based charity (formerly Song For Africa), by going to Africa and sharing their technological and musical training.[37] In May 2015, Moore Received the Mississauga Arts Council, Laurie Pallett Patron of the Arts, MARTY Award for his contributions to the Mississauga arts community.[38] In April 2016, Moore received the Mississauga Board of Trade, Lifetime Achievement Award [39] for his dedication to business in Mississauga and the community.

The group members have also served on various boards over the years. Currently, in 2014, Moore is on the Advisory Boards of Music Canada and CAAMA (Canadian Association for the Advancement of Music and the Arts)[40] and Levine serves on the Board of Directors and Advisory Board for the Musicians’ Rights Organization Canada (MROC).[41] In the past Emmett has served on the Advisory Boards at Humber College and the Songwriters Association of Canada. Moore has also served on the Executive Board at Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Science (CARAS) as well as the Toronto Musicians Association (TMA).

Band members[edit]

Classic members[edit]

  • Rik Emmett – guitar, lead and backing vocals, synthesizer, slide guitar, lap steel guitar, dobro, clavinet, music sequencer, bass, bass pedals (1975–1988, 2008, 2019)
  • Mike Levine – bass, backing vocals, keyboards, synthesizer, organ, piano, clavinet, bass pedals (1975–1993, 2008, 2019)
  • Gil Moore – drums, percussion, lead and backing vocals (1975–1993, 2008, 2019)

Former members[edit]

  • Phil X – guitar, backing vocals (1992–1993)

Former touring musicians

  • Rick Santers – guitar, keyboards, backing and lead vocals (1984–1993)
  • Sebastian Bach – lead vocals (1993)
  • Dave Dunlop – guitar, backing vocals (2008, 2019)

Session musicians[edit]

  • Laurie Delgrande – keyboards on Triumph (1976); on Rock and Roll Machine (1977); on Just a Game (1979)
  • Mike Danna – keyboards on Rock and Roll Machine (1977); on Just a Game (1979)
  • Beau David – backing vocals on Rock and Roll Machine (1977); on Just a Game (1979)
  • Elaine Overholt – backing vocals on Rock and Roll Machine (1977); on Just a Game (1979); on Allied Forces (1981); on "Mind Games" and "Empty Inside" from Stages (1985)
  • Gord Waszek – backing vocals on Rock and Roll Machine (1977); on Just a Game (1979)
  • Colina Phillips – backing vocals on Rock and Roll Machine (1977); on Just a Game (1979)
  • Rosie Levine – backing vocals on Rock and Roll Machine (1977); on Just a Game (1979)
  • Lou Pomanti – synthesizer, keyboards, programming on Thunder Seven (1984); synthesizer, synthesizer programming, keyboards on The Sport of Kings (1986)
  • Al Rogers – backing vocals on Thunder Seven (1984)
  • Sandee Bathgate – backing vocals on Thunder Seven (1984)
  • Dave Dickson – backing vocals on Thunder Seven (1984)
  • Herb Moore – backing vocals on Thunder Seven (1984)
  • Andy Holland – backing vocals on Thunder Seven (1984)
  • Gary McCracken – drums on "Mind Games" from Stages (1985)
  • Rob Yale – keyboards on "Mind Games" and "Empty Inside" from Stages (1985)
  • Michael Boddicker (not to be confused with the major league baseball player Mike Boddicker) – synthesizer, keyboards, synthesizer programming on The Sport of Kings (1986)
  • Scott Humphrey – synthesizer, keyboards, synthesizer programming on The Sport of Kings (1986)
  • Johnny Rutledge – backing vocals on The Sport of Kings (1986)
  • David Blamires – backing vocals on The Sport of Kings (1986)
  • Neil Donell – backing vocals on The Sport of Kings (1986)
  • John Roberts – newscast on "Carry on the Flame" from Surveillance (1987)
  • Steve Morse – electric guitar on "Headed for Nowhere" and acoustic guitar on "All the King's Horses" from Surveillance (1987)
  • Dave Traczuk – synthesizer, keyboards, programming on Surveillance (1987)
  • Greg Loates – percussion, programming, effects on Surveillance (1987)
  • Hugh Cooper – sound effects on Surveillance (1987)
  • Joel Feeney – backing vocals on Surveillance (1987)
  • Joel Wade – backing vocals, chant, choir, chorus on Surveillance (1987)
  • Paul Henderson – backing vocals, chant, choir, chorus on Surveillance (1987)
  • Ross Munro – choir, chorus, chant on Surveillance (1987)
  • John Alexander – choir, chorus, chant on Surveillance (1987)
  • Noel Golden – choir, chorus, chant on Surveillance (1987)
  • Mladen – guitar on Edge of Excess (1992)



Album certifications[edit]

Date Album Certification Label Territory
April 1, 1979 Just A Game Gold Attic Canada
May 1, 1979 Rock & Roll Machine Platinum Attic Canada
May 1, 1979 Rock & Roll Machine Gold Attic Canada
November 1, 1979 Just A Game Platinum Attic Canada
November 1, 1979 Triumph Gold Attic Canada
August 1, 1980 Progressions of Power Gold Attic Canada
October 1, 1981 Allied Forces Gold Attic Canada
June 30, 1982 Allied Forces Gold RCA US
September 30, 1983 Never Surrender Gold RCA US
November 19, 1984 Thunder Seven Gold TRC US
March 1, 1985 Thunder Seven Gold MCA Canada
August 26, 1985 Thunder Seven Platinum MCA Canada
December 17, 1985 Stages Gold MCA Canada
October 23, 1986 The Sport of Kings Gold MCA Canada
December 8, 1987 Surveillance Gold MCA Canada
March 16, 2001 Classics Platinum MCA Canada
March 16, 2001 Classics Gold MCA Canada
April 21, 2003 Allied Forces Platinum RCA US
April 21, 2003 Just A Game Gold RCA US
April 29, 2003 Classics Gold MCA US
August 22, 2003 Never Surrender Gold MCA Canada
August 6, 2004 A Night of Triumph Gold TML Canada
December 19, 2007 The Sport of Kings Platinum MCA Canada
February 22, 2013 Rock & Roll Machine 2x Platinum Attic Canada


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External links[edit]